Currently, there are two sweet gums in the arboretum collection. The youngest of the two was added this summer. It's camouflaged in a groundsel bush (Baccharis halimifolia), growing on the grassy slope north of Cline Hall. The senior tree is an on-site native, age unknown. It has been growing along the drainage on the south side of the arboretum for a long time. This old tree has withstood a great deal of abuse over the years. According to Ed Leuck's log, the sweet gum was decapitated by the tornado of Easter Sunday, 1999, and the top was further damaged a year later. It also survived the construction of the Fitness Center and the necessary sidewalk installations. Today, the tree looks healthy overall, but we will need to keep an eye on the trunk of the tree, as it appears to be exhibiting signs of bleeding necrosis.
Note: The photos below were taken shortly after noon on a mostly cloudy day. It has been hot, humid and cloudy during the last week of summer.
|The sweet gum stands directly behind the arboretum sign. Next in line, behind the sweet gum, is the narrow drainage channel that runs north-to-south through the arboretum.|
|Stepping back, towards Mickle Hall, we can see that the sweet gum is at the bottom of a steep slope. Looking up, we can see that the leaves are changing colors.|
|Right now we have green, light-green, yellow, orange and some red as well.|
|In this photo, taken on the north side of Cline Hall, the crown of the sweet gum is seen from a distance, wedged between the dark green foliage of a magnolia and an oak. In the foreground, Magnolia grandiflora (covered in Berchemia scandens) stands on the left, and Quercus texana stands on the right.|
|The star-shaped leaves turn beautiful colors in the fall. This is a vibrant crimson leaf, but you can find yellow and orange leaves, too.|
|Old and new spiny fruits of the sweet gum tree|
|The mature sweet gum has gray, rough bark. To the left of the tree we can see bright red seeds of the strawberry bush (Euonymus americanus).|
For more information about this species consult the following:
University of Florida IFAS Extension
NC State University
United States Department of Agriculture
Louisiana Plant Identification and Interactive Virtual Tours